Facilities and Health Information:
Costa Rica actively promotes medical tourism. While the perceived advantages are affordable costs, quality health care, and a chance to recuperate and have a vacation at the same time, there are also risks.
Medical tourists should confirm that the facilities they intend to use are accredited and have an acceptable level of care. They should also purchase medical evacuation insurance before travelling, and should confirm that the cost and payment for their treatment is clearly understood by both parties. Persons with unpaid or disputed debts in Costa Rica may be legally prevented from leaving the country.
In the event of unforeseen medical complications or malpractice, medical tourists may not be covered by their personal insurance or may not be able to seek damages through malpractice lawsuits. Although many hospitals and clinics abroad have medical malpractice insurance, seeking compensation can prove to be difficult because insurance laws and legal options may not exist. Be aware that if you should need or wish to be transferred to a hospital in the United States and do not have medical evacuation insurance, an air ambulance flight can cost upwards of US$20,000 and will often take place only after you (or your loved ones) have paid for it.
Medical care in San Jose is generally adequate, but is limited in areas outside of San Jose. Most prescription and over-the-counter medications are available throughout Costa Rica. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. A list of local doctors and medical facilities can be obtained from the U.S. Embassy in San Jose’s website.. An ambulance may be summoned by calling 911. Most ambulances provide transportation but little or no medical assistance.
Malaria can occur in some rural locations, but is not commonly encountered. However, Costa Rica regularly experiences outbreaks of dengue fever in much of the country. Unlike some of the other mosquito-borne illnesses, there is no medical prophylactic or curative regimen for dengue. Travelers should take precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes to reduce the chance of contracting the illness, such as avoiding standing water, wearing long sleeves and pants in both day and night, and applying insect repellent regularly. On July 2, 2013, the Ministry of Health declared a health alert due to the increase in cases of dengue.
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